Trending November 2023 # Google’S Pixel Recorder Is Kickass But It Needs These Features # Suggested December 2023 # Top 15 Popular

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Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

There are plenty of reasons to pick up a Pixel phone, such as the suite of camera features, call screening functionality, and lengthy update commitment. However, another neat but often forgotten feather in Google’s Pixel cap is the Recorder app.

Google debuted its Recorder in 2023 on the Pixel 4 series, delivering a smarter experience than many other voice recorder apps. Here’s what makes it stand out from the pack and the few improvements we’d still like to see.

Explained: Google’s Recorder app is like magic, but here’s how it works

Where Google needs to improve things

Nevertheless, as impressive as Google Recorder is, it’s definitely not perfect. There are several key areas where it could do with some improvements. So here’s what we want to see from the app in the future.

The ability to correct transcriptions

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

The transcription functionality on Google’s app is a smart idea, but it’s not a consistently accurate experience. Results vary wildly depending on the person talking, the nature of the conversation (e.g. in-person or over a video call) and the subject matter. So Google should really implement the ability to correct transcriptions.

You do get a text file of the transcription that can be edited via text editors like Notepad or Google Docs, but the ideal solution would be for Google to let you edit the transcription in the Recorder app itself. We’re not sure why this isn’t possible, although I’d guess that it has something to do with the text being coupled to the audio in the app. Still, we think Google could highlight changes and keep a version history of the original transcript and our edits.

An option to highlight incorrect transcriptions and fix them would be awesome. And the new words would show up in search later.

Regardless of the reason, it would be a great, long-overdue addition if we could simply tap and hold on a word in the transcript to correct it without resorting to a standalone text editor. That way it shows up in searches inside the app later.

Import voice notes

Perhaps my biggest request for the Pixel Recorder app is the ability to import voice notes for transcription. Granted, if you have a Pixel that means you can simply use the recorder app in the moment to get both the audio and transcript. There are a few reasons why importing voice notes would still be handy though.

One reason is for importing old voice notes from a previous phone. Bringing these into the Google recorder app would be a good way to keep them all in one place while getting automatic transcripts, to boot.

Importing voice notes would let you bring older recordings or ones from other devices into Recorder.

It’s also useful if you simply use a second device for voice notes for whatever reason (such as a dictaphone, secondary smartphone, or laptop), and don’t want to manually transcribe these recordings. It makes sense to have Google’s app handling the transcription first and then going back to fix things up.

Let me know who’s speaking

One of the downsides to Google’s voice recorder is that it doesn’t differentiate between different speakers. So you still have to listen to the recording or carefully parse the transcript to figure this out.

Google surely has the AI know-how to differentiate between two speakers’ voices.

Needless to say, we really want Google to figure this out and implement some sort of speaker detection and differentiation in the Recorder app. Even labeling various speakers as “speaker A” or “speaker B,” would be a good start. This functionality isn’t impossible to implement either, as the third-party Otter service is already capable of this.

I’m fine paying for it, Google, but let me use Recorder on other phones.

The company could limit a Recorder feature (such as on-device transcriptions or automatic backups) to Pixels if it really wanted to maintain some exclusivity. Or it could charge a modest fee for the app if it wanted to see some return on investment. I know I’d pay a small one-time fee to gain access to it across my devices.

Read next: This past month reminded me of why I really love (and hate) my Pixel 6 Pro

You're reading Google’S Pixel Recorder Is Kickass But It Needs These Features

How To Use Google Jamboard With Google Meet

Ever since the Mountain View giant started rolling it out for free for everyone, Google Meet has quickly gained quite an audience for being one of the more streamlined services that can be used to get things done during the pandemic. Not just corporate organizations but also educational institutions, and teachers are now gradually switching to Google Meet for its ease of access and interactive features.

If you’re an educator or if you’re someone who wants to present your topic on a whiteboard as you would in an office, you can use Google Jamboard with others in a Google Meet session. The following post will guide you into creating a Jam and then sharing it with participants of your meeting on Google Meet.

Related: How to see everyone on Google Meet

What is Google Jamboard?

Jamboard was launched by Google in 2023 as an interactive tool that allowed workers and enterprise users to interact using a whiteboard with features like sticky notes, the ability to add images from Drive and the web, handwriting and shape recognition. Initially released as a competitor to the Microsoft Surface Hub, Jamboard featured a 55-inch 4K display with touch functionality that supported up to 16 touches at once.

The device also came with a Full HD webcam, a couple of styluses, and different connectivity options like USB-C, micro-USB, and HDMI ports. In terms of collaboration, Jamboard came with sharing capability with up to 50 participants and 20 pages per jam.

Do you need Jamboard hardware for Google Meet?

The only feature that you will be missing out on by using Jamboard without its hardware is the shape and handwriting recognition which isn’t much of a deal-breaker. You still get access to Jamboard’s other collaboration tools like markup, sticky notes, and more.

How to use Google Jamboard with Google Meet

So, here is everything you need right from creating your first Jam to additional tips you should know already.

How to create a new Jam on Google Jamboard

Step 1: Head over to Google Jamboard on your web browser (for best results, use Google Chrome).

How to add a Jam to a meeting on Meet

Note: If you own an actual Jamboard display, you can tap on the ‘Join or start a meeting’ option from the top right corner of your Jamboard screen. You can learn more about Google Meet on Jamboard from this Google support page. 

That’s it! Your Jamboard window is now visible for all participants of your meeting on Google Meet. You can move over to your Google Jamboard tab to start teaching or presenting your topic.

How to allow everyone to collaborate on Jamboard in Meet

Now that you have created and started allowing participants to view your Jam on Google Jamboard, you can proceed to let them also interact with your Jam. You can do so by following the steps below.

Step 1: Head over to the Google Jamboard tab inside your browser.

You can now see different ways to share your Jam. Google keeps all of your Jam sessions private unless you manually make them public so that they can be accessed by anyone with a link.

Step 4: If you want to give the participants the ability to interact on your Jam, you can select the ‘Editor’ option from the options as shown in the image.

Step 6: Move over to the Google Meet tab on your browser and tap on the Chat icon at the top right corner (the one between the People icon and Time).

Step 7: Paste the link that you copied from Step 5 onto the Chatbox and press on the Send button (or hit the Enter key on your keyboard).

The link to your Jamboard session will now be available for anyone who’s present in the Google Meet meeting. You can head over to your Jamboard page to doodle, present, and interact with other participants.

4 Google Jamboard tips to know

Now that you have started interacting with participants from your Google Meet session on Jamboard, you can take it a step further by following the tips mentioned below.

Keep your Jam private and share to a limited number of participants

If you’re presenting to a handful number of participants, we suggest you keep the Jam link private and allow collaboration by adding the names or email addresses of people you want to give access under the ‘Share with people and groups’ section.

Give editing privileges to users with Restricted access

Allow participants to share a Jam and change permissions

Choose whether viewers can download or copy a Jam

You can already select who can be viewers and editors of your Jam on Jamboard. But you can also control if viewers of your Jam can download a copy of your session or copy its contents when viewing it.

Google Pixel 6 And Google Pixel 6 Pro Are Finally Here

Last Updated on July 22, 2023

That’s right, they are finally here, Google Pixel 6 and Google Pixel 6 Pro are now available for preorder on the Google Store. If you preorder from the Google Store, you can claim a set of Bose 700 wireless headphones worth over £300 in the UK, RoI, France, and Germany. Looking for the best place to preorder in the UK and US? See our ‘Where To Buy’ article right here. Google Pixel 6 and Google 6 Pro go on sale on October 28th. There’s plenty to talk about, so let’s get straight into it.

Catch up on the Pixel Fall Launch right here.

Google Pixel 6 and Google Pixel 6 Pro Specifications And Features Magic Eraser

This is a game-changer, Google has combined machine learning (MI), their best ever Google Pixel camera array, and Google Tensor SoC to get rid of the features you don’t want in pictures. Simply tap the distraction you don’t want and follow a couple of simple steps to remove them in Google photos, no Photoshop needed.

Motion Mode

This one is simple, add some character and, well, motion to your photos. Say you’ve had a picture taken of you next to speedway, but the Google Pixel 6 camera didn’t pick up how fast the cars were going. The camera has picked up your ‘pixel’ perfect face, but nothing much is happening in the background. No worries, in just a couple of quick taps, you can add a bit of motion blur to that car, or correct any blur on the image. For single pictures, portrait mode brings an ‘artful’ blur to the background, according to Google.

Authentic Photos Translations

On-demand and live translation will also feature on the Google Pixel 6, which also uses half the power previous iterations did. This translation feature also works in other third-party chat apps too. This also leaks into Google Lens, streaming services such as YouTube and much more to be announced. Oh, did we mention the interpreter mode is absolutely on-point? It’s insane! In this event, this is demonstrated in real time between English and Japanese.


Google Tensor is guaranteed at least five years of security updates, a bold move for a smartphone manufacturer. This is thanks to Google developing Tensor in-house, which alleviates pressure from external chip manufacturers. The built-in security hub puts all of your security updates in one place, which keeps things nice and simple. Another handy feature, introduced in Android 12, allows quick control over Google Pixel 6s microphone and camera, allowing users to block access for all apps in the drop-down menu on Android 12. Google Pixel 6 can also detect an emergency and auto-call for help, share a location, or record a video.

Google Pixel Fall Launch Event Highlights

Overall, it’s great to see Rick Osterloh and his team pull out all the stops for a premium, yet affordable Google Pixel that has real-life applications and uses. It’s easy, especially in the Android market, to get into an arms race and focus on who has the best SoC, screen, and more. Google justified why they have the best camera array, why they have the best machine learning-based SoC in Tensor, why they have the most inclusive product and ecosystem, and more for practical reasons. It was a super consumer-friendly experience and felt genuine, they even admitted they’ve previously missed the mark in the smartphone market overall. Then again, that’s quite easy to go when you have a brilliant product to sell.

Google is confident this year and it’s all thanks to reaping the rewards from years of development and investment in machine learning and Google Tensor. You can read about why this is a big deal for Google in our article here, but it’s a great approach with the future in mind. We don’t need more powerful tech, we need smarter tech, which is where Google MI research has come full circle. The event touched on Google’s origins as just a search engine, and it’s crazy to think that Google started on its machine learning journey in the late 90s, but it’s true.

Ambient computing is Google’s end-game, with Google Pixel and the front and center as its central control. For example, my smart home hub is a Google Nest Hub Max, which controls my Hive central heating, WiFi Plugs, Bulbs, and more. The Google Pixel 6 fits into that ecosystem and works with other smart technology to make life easier and inclusive. A good example here is Google’s Natural Language Processing. For users who have a very strong accent or dialect don’t have to worry about voice-controlled Google features anymore. What’s more? They can use Google translate to help write messages or use interpreter mode to communicate easier.

Computational photography is another big sell for Google Pixel 6, it just works and does what users want it to do. People want to have professional-looking photos and to edit quickly. They don’t want to learn how to use photo editing software, or to ask that clued-up family member to remove the weird-looking guy in the park from a picture. They just want to sort it and get on with their day, which is a big green tick for Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro.

12/12/12 Google Zeitgeist Shows Top Google Searches In 2012

Google has just compiled its 12th annual Zeitgeist — its list of top global trending searches for the year — and guess what? Somehow, the search term “Gangnam Style” didn’t make it to the top of the pile.

Instead, that honor goes to the late singer “Whitney Houston”, who beat K-Pop star Psy’s hit song down into second place as the most searched-for thing on the web this year, just ahead of “Hurricane Sandy” in third, and “iPad 3”, which came in fourth.

Houston’s untimely death last February resulted in an explosion of web users searching for information about her fate, and it seems that her popularity has endured throughout the remainder of the year.

“While there are perennial themes – ‘what is love?’ topped the list in ten countries – it’s the unusual and surprising that caught our attention in 2012,” explains Amit Singhal on the Google Blog.

Had Ms Houston not passed away, first place would have almost certainly belonged to “Gangnam Style”, the global dance phenomenon which has attracted more than 930 million views on YouTube to become that site’s most-watched video of all time.

“PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ signature dance took the world by storm,” added Singhal.

But our interests certainly weren’t just limited to pop stars in 2012. Natural disasters are always a big hit on search engines whenever we’re unfortunate enough to fall victim to them, as “Hurricane Sandy” illustrates by its third place rank. Meanwhile, the inclusion of “iPad 3” in the top four shows that no matter how many Android devices Samsung wheel into the stores, they’ll probably never win over the legions of iOS devotees.

Google’s Zeitgeist has been rolling out around this time each year ever since 2001, and gives us an array of insights into the biggest search trends around the globe.

The term “election 2012” was the third most-searched for trend in the United States after Whitney and Sandy. Sadly for our favorite rapper Psy, netizens in the US weren’t ‘quite’ so impressed with the originality of his dance routines, as “Gangnam Style” slipped down to a lowly eighth place.

Events and people are the two categories that almost always top the list of trending searches, and so it’s interesting to see that Princess Kate Middleton, aka the Duchess of Cambridge, featured highly in both of these lists. “Kate Middleton” was the second-most searched for person in 2012, whilst “Kate Middleton Pictures Released” (we’re assuming the wedding photos and not the topless ones) came in second in the list of events.

Lastly, one new inclusion in Google’s Zeitgeist this year is the list of top trending Google+ hashtags, which reveals that more than just a few people are in agreement with Google that the web should remain ‘free and open’. The most popular hashtag this year was “#SOPA”, followed by the slightly unoriginal “#Awesome”, with “#Sandy” once again rearing its ugly head in third place.

Google Unveils Pixel 3 Phones, Pixel Slate Tablet, Google Home Hub

At the Made by Google event in New York City, the company unveiled its new lineup of devices for 2023, including its new flagship Pixel 3 phones, Pixel Slate hybrid tablet, and the Google Home Hub.

Here are the biggest announcements from Google:

The biggest announcement at the Google event was, without a doubt, the unveiling of the new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL phones.

If you’ve been following the leaks online, you already know pretty much everything that you’re getting with these new phones, including wireless charging Qi and a wide-angle front-facing camera.

These mobile devices have the same internals, such as a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor and 4GB of memory.

The only real difference is the screen and battery size. The Pixel 3 features a 5.5-inch (2160 x 1080) display and a 2915 mAh battery, while the Pixel 3 XL sports a 6.3-inch (2960 x 1440) display with a gigantic notch and a 3430 mAh battery.

The smaller Pixel 3 and the bigger Pixel 3 XL will come with 64GB or 128GB of storage, and they’re expected to be available on October 18. Preorders are available immediately through the Google Store. Pricing starts at $799 for the smaller screen, while the bigger one will cost $899. They’ll be first available on Verizon network, but the company will be selling the phones unlocked as well.

Google Home Hub

Google also introduced a new version of its Home speakers, which now includes a touch-enabled display. It’s like a tablet docked to some big speakers. The device has been designed to be the hub to control your smart devices around the house (for example, cameras, thermostats, and lights), and of course, to access all the services that the search engine offers.

The Google Home Hub will be available in four colors — Chalk, Charcoal, Aqua and Sand –, and you can preorder it now, and it’ll cost $149.

Pixel Slate

Google is betting again on tablets with its new Pixel Slate 2-in-1 tablet, which also runs Chrome OS. Similar to Windows 10 running on a Microsoft Surface device, the operating system switches seamlessly between desktop and table modes, and you can run Android apps available from the Play Store.

The tablet also has a keyboard, which is a detachable folio with rounded keys and a trackpad. Again, similar to the Surface Type Cover, but with magnets that allow you to adjust the viewing angles, but it doesn’t offer lapability as the Microsoft devices offer.

The Pixel Slate comes in various hardware configurations from a Celeron processor to an Intel 8th generation Core i7 on the most expensive model. The pricing starts at $599, while the keyboard will be sold separately for $199, and the pen will cost you another $99.

Google Pixel Slate is expected to ship this year, and preorders are not yet available.

Alongside these new products, Google also introduces the Pixel Stand, which is just a wireless charger for its new phones and some extra features. In addition, the company announced a new improved Chromecast device with a performance boost of 15 percent bringing support for 1080p videos at 60fps.

Google Sheets Sort By Color And Google Sheets Filter By Color

Google Sheets sort by color and filter by color are useful techniques to organize your data based on the color of text or cells within the data.

For example, you might highlight rows of data relating to an important customer. Google Sheets sort by color and filter by color let you bring those highlighted rows to the top of your dataset, or even only show those rows.

They’re really helpful for removing duplicates in Google Sheets too.

As a bonus, they’re really easy to use. Let’s see how:

Google Sheets Sort By Color

Suppose you have a dataset with highlighted rows, for example all the apartments in this dataset:

Add a filter (the funnel icon in the toolbar, shown in red in the above image).

You can filter by the background color of the cell (like the yellow in this example) or by the color of the text.

The result of applying this sort is all the colored rows will be brought to the top of your dataset.

This is super helpful if you want to review all items at the same time. Another reason might be if they’re duplicate rows you’ve highlighted which you can now delete.

Google Sheets Filter By Color

The Google Sheets filter by color method is very similar to the sort by color method.

In this example, I’ve used the Google Sheets filter by color to only display the yellow highlighted rows, which makes it really easy to review them.

There’s an option to remove the filter by color by setting it to none, found under the filter by color menu. This option is not found for the sort by color method.

Apps Script Solution

When I originally published this article, sort by color and filter by color were not available natively in Google Sheets, so I created a small script to add this functionality to a Sheet.

They were added on 11th March 2023. Read more here in the Google Workspace update blog.

Here is my original Apps Script solution, left here for general interest.

With a few simple lines of Apps Script, we can implement our own version.

This article will show you how to implement that same feature in Google Sheets.

It’s a pretty basic idea.

We need to know the background color of the cell we want to sort or filter with (user input 1). Then we need to know which column to use to do the sorting or filtering (user input 2). Finally we need to do the sort or filter.

So step one is to to prompt the user to input the cell and columns.

Apps Script Sort By Color

At a high level, our program has the following components:

Custom menu to run the Google Sheets sort by color program

Prompt to ask user for the color cell

Save the color cell using the Properties Service

Second prompt to ask the user for the sort/filter column

Save the sort/filter column using the Properties Service

Show the color and column choices and confirm

Retrieve the background colors of the sort/filter column

Add helper column to data in Sheet with these background colors

Sort/Filter this helper column, based on the color cell

Clear out the values in the document Properties store

Let’s look at each of these sections in turn.

Add A Custom Menu (1)

This is simply boilerplate Apps Script code to add a custom menu to your Google Sheet:

/** * Create custom menu */ function onOpen() { ui.createMenu('Color Tool') .addItem('Sort by color...', 'sortByColorSetupUi') .addItem('Clear Ranges','clearProperties') .addToUi(); } Prompt The User For Cell And Column Choices (2, 4 and 6 above) /** * Sort By Color Setup Program Flow * Check whether color cell and sort columnn have been selected * If both selected, move to sort the data by color */ function sortByColorSetupUi() { var colorProperties = PropertiesService.getDocumentProperties(); var colorCellRange = colorProperties.getProperty('colorCellRange'); var sortColumnLetter = colorProperties.getProperty('sortColumnLetter'); var title='No Title'; var msg = 'No Text'; if(!colorCellRange) { title = 'Select Color Cell'; dispStatus(title, msg); } if (colorCellRange && !sortColumnLetter) { title = 'Select Sort Column'; dispStatus(title, msg); } if(colorCellRange && sortColumnLetter) { title= 'Displaying Color Cell and Sort Column Ranges'; dispStatus(title,msg); } } /** * display the modeless dialog box */ function dispStatus(title,html) { var title = typeof(title) !== 'undefined' ? title : 'No Title Provided'; var htmlOutput = HtmlService .createHtmlOutput(html) .setWidth(350) .setHeight(200); } /** * helper function to switch between dialog box 1 (to select color cell) and 2 (to select sort column) */ function sortByColorHelper(mode) { var mode = (typeof(mode) !== 'undefined')? mode : 0; switch(mode) { case 1: setColorCell(); sortByColorSetupUi(); break; case 2: setSortColumn(); sortByColorSetupUi(); break; default: clearProperties(); } }

The buttons on the dialog boxes use the client-side chúng tôi API to call server-side Apps Script functions.

Following this, the is also a client-side JavaScript API that closes the current dialog box.

Save The Cell And Column Choices In The Property Store (3 and 5)

These two functions save the cell and column ranges that the user highlights into the Sheet’s property store:

/** * saves the color cell range to properties */ function setColorCell() { var colorProperties = PropertiesService.getDocumentProperties(); colorProperties.setProperty('colorCellRange', colorCell); } /** * saves the sort column range in properties */ function setSortColumn() { var sortColumnLetter = sortColumn.split(':')[0].replace(/d/g,'').toUpperCase(); var colorProperties = PropertiesService.getDocumentProperties(); colorProperties.setProperty('sortColumnLetter', sortColumnLetter); }

As a result of running these functions, we have the color cell address (in A1 notation) and the sort/filter column letter saved in the Property store for future access.

Sorting The Data (7, 8 and 9 above)

The sortData function is defined as follows:

/** * sort the data based on color cell and chosen column */ function sortData() { var colorProperties = PropertiesService.getDocumentProperties(); var colorCell = colorProperties.getProperty('colorCellRange'); var sortColumnLetter = colorProperties.getProperty('sortColumnLetter'); var lastRow = sheet.getLastRow(); var lastCol = sheet.getLastColumn(); var sortColBackgrounds = sheet.getRange(sortColumnLetter + 2 + ":" + sortColumnLetter + lastRow).getBackgrounds(); var sortColor = sheet.getRange(colorCell).getBackground(); var sortCodes = { return (val[0] === sortColor) ? [1] : [2]; }); sortCodes.unshift(['Sort Column']); sheet.getRange(1,lastCol+1,lastRow,1).setValues(sortCodes); sheet.getRange(1,lastCol+1,1,1).setHorizontalAlignment('center').setFontWeight('bold').setWrap(true); var dataRange = sheet.getRange(2,1,lastRow,lastCol+1); dataRange.sort(lastCol+1); sheet.getDataRange().createFilter(); clearProperties(); }

And finally, we want a way to clear the properties store so we can start over.

Clear The Property Store (10 above)

This simple function will delete all the key/value pairs stored in the Sheet’s property store:

/** * clear the properties */ function clearProperties() { PropertiesService.getDocumentProperties().deleteAllProperties(); } Run The Google Sheets Sort By Color Script

If you put all these code snippets together in your chúng tôi file, you should be able to run onOpen, authorize your script and then run the sort by color tool from the new custom menu.

Here’s the sort by color tool in action in Google Sheets:

You can see how all of the green shaded rows are sorted to the top of my dataset.

Note that this sort by color feature is setup to work with datasets that begin in cell A1 (because it relies on the getDataRange() method, which does the same).

Some improvements would be to make it more generalized (or prompt the user to highlight the dataset initially). I also have not included any error handling, intentionally to keep the script as simple as possible to aid understanding. However, this is something you’d want to consider if you want to make this solution more robust.

Apps Script Sort By Color Template

Here’s the Google Sheet template for you to copy.

(If you’re prompted for permission to open this, it’s because my Google Workspace domain, chúng tôi is not whitelisted with your organization. You can talk to your Google Workspace administrator about that. Alternatively, if you open this link in incognito mode, you’ll be able to view the Sheet and copy the script direct from the Script Editor.)

If GitHub is your thing, here’s the sort by color code in my Apps Script repo on GitHub.

Apps Script Filter By Color

The program flow is virtually identical, except that we filter the data rather than sort it. The code is almost exactly the same too, other than variable names being different and implementing a filter instead of a sort.

Rather than sorting the data, we create and add a filter to the dataset to show only the rows shaded with the matching colors:

The filter portion of the code looks like this:

if (sheet.getFilter() !== null) { sheet.getFilter().remove(); } var newFilter = sheet.getDataRange().createFilter(); filterCriteria.whenTextEqualTo(filterColor); newFilter.setColumnFilterCriteria(lastCol + 1, filterCriteria);

If you want a challenge, see if you can modify the sort code to work with the filter example.

Apps Script Filter By Color Template

Feel free to copy the Google Sheets filter by color template here.

(If you’re prompted for permission to open this, it’s because my Google Workspace domain, chúng tôi is not whitelisted with your organization. You can talk to your Google Workspace administrator about that. Alternatively, if you open this link in incognito mode, you’ll be able to view the Sheet and copy the script direct from the Script Editor.)

Or pull the code directly from the GitHub repo here.

Will Google Cloud Catch Up?

There’s an odd phenomenon that happens to me at Google Next conferences, Google’s annual event to tout its cloud computing platform. It happened to me at last year’s show, and it happened again this year.

I go into the event full of skepticism about Google’s hopes for its cloud computing platform. The search giant is clearly a laggard in cloud computing. Its toughest critics suggest it may never be more than a supporting player. And yet after I spend time at its annual conference, watch demos and listen to Google execs, I become convinced: Google Cloud will be a force to be reckoned with.

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I look back at my Google Next piece from last year and I’m almost sheepish – I was so enthusiastic about GCP’s chances, a distinctly minority opinion at the time. (In my defense, my Google Next article from 2023 was restrained.) Mind you, I’ve seen a lot of tech presentations; I’m properly jaded. But, even with a year to regain my doubts – well-founded doubts, to be sure – this year’s Google Cloud conference again won me over.

First, the skepticism. Cloud leader Amazon Web Services began offering IT infrastructure services in 2006, essentially pushing the IT industry into the new world of cloud. Microsoft, slow at first given its legacy of packaged software, saw the critical importance of cloud and invested deeply in Azure. Google, meanwhile, appeared to be largely sleepwalking. Google Cloud Platform has only been seriously competitive in the enterprise market for the last few years.

This Kubernetes display seemed popular among Next attendees

Estimates of 2023 cloud revenue from Deutsche Bank sum up the horse race: AWS earned $12.22 billion, with 2.42 billion for Microsoft Azure and $900 million for Google. (Figures don’t include sales of cloud-based productivity tools, which for Microsoft is huge.) Deutsche Bank forecasts that both Google and Microsoft will double their cloud sales over the next two years, with Microsoft growing at a faster rate that Google. In other words, GCP’s underdog status won’t change in the foreseeable future.

But Google? Hmmm, well, it has a depth of technical expertise that is unsurpassed by any company on the planet. But AWS has a clever habit of finding what’s commercial in high tech and offering it to businesses in a way that’s geared for their current needs. Microsoft is no slouch in this area either, and has an edge over AWS in hybrid cloud, a model adored by large enterprise.

Underneath the marketing noise, Google Cloud’s positives going forward boil down to two key areas: Google’s profound strength in artificial intelligence (and the related fields of data analytics and machine learning), and its newfound deep desire to romance enterprise clients.

Promoting GCP technology

Newfound Enterprise Focus: There’s an opinion that often voiced about Google: its internal company culture is geared for exceptionally high end, sophisticated tech. This is the company that creates self-driving cars and tweaks neural networks for deep AI projects. But catering to the boring needs of regular mainstream businesses? Not so much.

“Google makes phenomenal technology, but their strength and their weakness is that everything is very ‘Googly,’” said Stu Miniman, an analyst with Wikibon who attended Google Next. Translated: it’s geared for the hyper geek. Google’s attitude is perceived, he explained, as “we make the best stuff, and the smartest people know how to use it.”

Another longtime tech pundit I spoke to at the event, who asked that he not be named, put it thusly: “With Google, they can talk to you a long time and you won’t really know what they said. They’re smart people, they’re smarter than you.”

But there were signs at the conference that this is changing. Google SVP Diane Greene, hired in November 2023 to remake Google Cloud, is GCP’s greatest asset. Having co-founded and built VMware – which revolutionized enterprise IT – Greene has the enterprise DNA that Google so lacks. If anyone can turn the GCP into a leader, it’s her. (Incidentally, in her keynote, she said, “I look forward to the day when this audience is 50 percent women.”)

Onstage, Greene presented various large enterprise GCP clients. Most notably, to my eyes, Colgate-Palmolive. While it’ a highly successful company, no one has ever described Colgate as a hot bed for futuristic innovation. Greene’s spotlight on Colgate seemed to saying, Look, we can cater to the needs to plain-old businessy businesses. GCP enabled Colgate to deploy the G Suite of productivity tools “to 28,000 employees in less than six months.” Wow, touting cloud-based office software: that’s a wonderfully mundane thing to brag about in 2023.

Clearly, Greene is whipping GCP into shape as an enterprise competitor. Google Cloud has hired more new employees than any of Alphabet’s other divisions; it’s also working to bolster its partner community. Google claims that in competitive bid situations, it’s awarded the contract 50 percent of the time, an increase from prior years. Not surprisingly, Microsoft and AWS dispute this; an AWS executive told The Wall Street Journal that “We rarely see (Google) among the last two finalists for big deals—especially when it comes to larger customers or enterprises.”

Whatever the truth of that issue, GCP is rolling out a smorgasbord of tools to entice enterprise clients. For instance, a free Virtual Machine transfer service, which facilities transfer from public clouds or on-premise environments; Cloud Dataprep, which allows data to be more easily prepared for processing; and support for Microsoft’s SQL Server on GCP. In fact Google put out a byzantine slew of announcements at Next; 100 by its own count, an amount no regular human could digest. Apparently the strategy is “let’s overwhelm them with new stuff – we are that committed!”

Press conference with Google executives; SVP Diane Greene at far left.

Along these lines, Google pushed two points hard this year. First, it promoted itself as the most resilient, reliable cloud, offering five nines – 99.999 – of uptime. Greene said that GCP had been designated as “having the highest availability of any cloud over the course of 2023.” (The figures come from CloudHarmony, a division of Gartner.) Then, in a clear jab at AWS, which suffered a recent outage, said added, “I think 2023 will be promising, too.” The audience chuckled heartily.

Microsoft issued a statement to dispute Greene’s claim, pointing out that it has a larger number of regions globally: “When looking at average uptime across regions, rather than total downtime across a disproportionate amount of regions for each provider, Azure reliability is in line with that of the other cloud providers measured…” Microsoft added a zinger of its own: “What we hear from our customers is that uptime is a more useful measure of availability.” Ouch! Take that, GCP. Google, for its part, promoted its expanding geographical coverage.

GCP’s most aggressive tactic to woo business was its price cuts, the surest path to the heart of any business. The so-called “race to the bottom,” price-wise, has been years long and Google has lost no enthusiasm for it. It cut Google Compute Engine prices up to 8%, offered Committed Use discounts of up to 57%, and extended its free trial from 60 days to 12 months.

Google also promotes its ability to get new cloud customers up and running quickly. Carousell, a marketplace app based in Asia, transferred from a competing public cloud to GCP in one month. Productivity software firm Evernote required just 70 days.

But those rapid on-ramps don’t reflect the experience of many established enterprises. At the conference, I spoke with a potential cloud customer, who attended to check out Google’s offering. He didn’t want his name used. What matters to you, I asked? He’s looking for reliability, support, and wants to avoid vendor lock-in – this last was particularly important. He said it would take 3-4 years to migrate to the cloud. That long, I asked? Yes, and some companies take longer, he opined. “If some cloud company says it takes six weeks, they mean a little startup takes that long.”

Perhaps for a customer like this, one of Google’s big sales pitches will be particularly compelling. Google points out in its marketing material that we’re living in a multi-cloud world; customers use more than one cloud vendor. Translated: even if we don’t get all your cloud business, perhaps we’ll get some of it. There’s a pragmatic humility in this. It’s the kind of pitch you hear from a backbencher; you don’t hear AWS talking about other providers.

Yet Google is correct about the dominance of the multi-cloud model. Companies will (and already do) use several cloud vendors, based on what that vendor does best. A company might use the Azure platform to boost its legacy infrastructure, and simultaneously deploy to GCP to leverage Google’s data analytics and machine learning offerings.

Google will benefit from this al la carte strategy, which is enabled by a multi-cloud world. Other cloud vendors will offer similar tools, but certainly Google’s version of various key tech tools – particularly machine learning and data analytics – will be at the forefront.

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